FIFA Street Review
- EA Canada
Made2Game FIFA Street review score: 8/10
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360
Format Reviewed: PS3
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Reviewer: Dave Harrison
Upon announcing to one of my friends that I was going to be reviewing FIFA Street, he proclaimed “So I’m presuming you’re going to give it 3 out of 10, because it’s got to be rubbish, right?”
I mumbled something about giving it a chance before shuffling off in my usual awkward way, but it got me thinking – why has EA Sports decided to revive the street football arm of the FIFA brand? Clearly, it wasn’t particularly well-received first time round if my football fanatic friend is anything to go by. With a lukewarm critical reception in its previous incarnation, does this particular franchise deserve another chance or should it have been left on the subs bench?
“It’s a game of two halves.”
FIFA Street is the urban-tinged cousin of the annual FIFA games, this reboot being the first to be designed by the same team as its more esteemed forefather rather than a separate developer.
Concentrating more upon tricks and flicks and one-on-one manoeuvres than team tactics, FIFA Street’s feel has more in common with the technical button mastery of a beat-em-up or score attack game than the usual shtick that footy fans are accustomed to. Initially, this feels quite difficult to get to grips with. Whilst defence now works in a very similar manner to FIFA 12 – whereby you hold down the X button to press the opposition before timing the O tap to flick the ball from the opponent’s feet – attacking has now become less to do with Barcelona-style passing round the park; instead, FIFA Street would prefer you to take the direct approach, using ‘beats’ and ‘pannas’ (nutmegs to you and me) to defeat the defence in the most embarrassing way possible, before nonchalantly plopping the inflated pig gut into the back of the net.
Of course, this is merely what the game would like you to do – in reality, you’ll probably spend your first few matches haphazardly running into the opposition before hopelessly trying to defend as they wiggle their way past you, whilst gaining a newfound appreciation of the skills on show in those Nike adverts. Still, there are a number of useful tutorial videos that teach you the basics of how to outwit the enemy, so you’ll soon be doing all sorts of flicks and twists you never previously knew were even physically possible.
“Our main focus this year is survival.”
The main meat of the game comes from the world tour mode, which allows you to create your very own street team with yourself as the captain, and guide them to world fame. After attempting to create myself in digital form in the reasonably exhaustive character creation screen (and ending up looking like the gangly lovechild of Peter Crouch and Ryan Gosling), you are then asked to choose your starting locale before entering tournaments within your given area, eventually moving onto a nationwide and worldwide scale. Being from Stoke-on-Trent, I naturally picked the West Midlands before bullying and haranguing all the local teams in an overly aggressive manner, as is the way in this part of the world. The difficulty is such that, when starting off, you can play in a fairly aggressive and uncouth way and still get away with it.
This tactically clumsy approach goes hand-in-hand with the RPG system in place for your team. Because you start off by selecting your team from the bunch of layabouts you have a Friday night kick-about with at the beginning of the campaign, you must level up your players, unlocking skills and upgrading stats as you go. Therefore, a lack of skill is fine, as the players you control begin with two left feet and don’t know the difference between a backpass and a body feint. Whilst this RPG-lite element could be accused of being included in order to give a false sense of depth to the proceedings, it actually ends up enhancing the game by rewarding skilful play and pulling off tricky manoeuvres.
Of course, all this well thought-out levelling up and the intuitive control scheme (which uses the right analogue stick to perform most of the tricks, a la Skate or, most recently, SSX) would be for nought if it encased a shallow experience. Indeed, I was initially worried that FIFA Street wouldn’t have the longevity of its older brother; after all, the main draw of the full-bodied FIFA games for me was the idea of performing the impossible, and finally getting Port Vale out of administration and into the Champions League. With that stripped out in favour of a bunch of daftly-named nobodies kicking a ball around an underpass, I half expected to find myself very bored, very quickly.
Luckily, there are a gaggle of game modes outside of the staple 4, 5 and 6-a-side soccer (with or without walls) to keep a bit of variety and subtly twist Street’s various mechanics in different ways. A firm favourite of mine is Panna Rules, which is all about the art of nutmegging people, over and over again, before scoring. Played as a 2-a-side match, complete with the smallest goals you’ve ever seen, Panna Rules is all about moving the ball between your two players and turning the ball past the opponent in as many stylish ways as possible – by linking your players up, the aim is to get as big a chain of “beats” as possible before putting the ball in the back of the net to bank those points. Of course, your opponent is looking to do the same, resulting in a thrilling game of cat and mouse, grabbing the ball off the opponent before they can bank their points. Every time a goal is scored, the banked points are reset, meaning that a huge chain of beats can be wiped out by a sneaky counter-attack.
“The boys have done good today.”
It would appear, then, that my football friend’s preconceptions about FIFA Street were entirely unfounded. Whilst it does have a few niggles, such as occasionally shonky graphics and the in-game menu moving irritatingly slow at times, it also offers up a lot of fast and fantastic football fun, all wrapped up in the usual EA Sports sheen we’ve come to expect. From the wonderful physicality in the way players move and react to one another, to the way it nails that Friday night post-pub kick about atmosphere, FIFA Street has become a worthy, feature packed football experience in its own right, even when compared to its more illustrious older brother.
Words by Dave “Davinho” Harrison (Twitter: @sealofmadness)
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